Redlining has become very popular in the White Mountains Hiker Community, so here’s an overview of what it entails and how to keep track of your progress using the official Redlining Spreadsheet.
What is Redlining?
Redlining involves hiking every trail listed in the Appalachian Mountain Club’s White Mountain Guide within the White Mountain National Forest in Central New Hampshire and Southeastern Maine, including additional trails in neighboring regions. Now in its 30th edition, the White Mountain Guide is the hiker’s bible in the Whites and is full of history and local lore. It’s amazing the amount of information that it contains.
White Mountain Redlining “Rules”
There are very few rules when it comes to redlining:
- To become a White Mountain Redlining Finisher you must hike all of the trails in an edition of the AMC White Mountain Guide. Most people redlining today are working on the 29th or 30th (current) edition of the guide. While the 30th edition has about a dozen more trails than the 29th, it’s a closer reflection of the current trail system, which is always changing due to trail closings, trail reconstruction, timber harvesting, and so on.
- You are expected to make an honest effort to hike all the trails in the guide. This includes visiting campsites, shelters, and scenic viewpoints that may not be listed in the spreadsheet. For example, there are a few springs and ledges mentioned in the guide that are not listed on the Redlining Spreadsheet, but many red-liners feel compelled to visit.
- Trails can be redlined in the winter. But when the snow is deep, it is easy to get off-trail and you might not be able to see the trail or know that you’re still following it. As long as you’ve made a good-faith effort to stay on the trail, you can give yourself credit for that section of trail.
- All segments or pieces of a trail must be hiked, walked, run, skied, snowshoed, on foot, at least once, without the aid of any sort of transportation with wheels. The mode of transportation used to get to each particular segment or section of the trail is not an issue.
- Redlining works on an honor system and there’s no governing body that’s going to check whether you finished the spreadsheet or hiked all the trails.
Tracking Your Progress With the Redliner Spreadsheet
When people start redlining the White Mountain Guide, many keep track of the trails, or the portions of trails they’ve hiked, by coloring them red with a sharpie on old maps. However, that method doesn’t scale very well when you’ve finished a lot of trails or have a lot of missing segments of trails that you need to go back and complete. That’s when it’s worth filling in the Redlining spreadsheet, which keeps a running total of the trails you’ve finished and how many miles you’ve completed. There’s another problem with tracking your progress on maps, in that not all of the trails appear on easy to find maps, including the AMC White Mountain National Forest Trail Map Set. You can often only find them by carefully following the driving directions in the White Mountain Guide, which has very good directions (but no GPS lat/lons).
The trails in the White Mountain Guide are organized into 12 geographic regions, which are reflected as different tabs in the Redlining Spreadsheet. These correspond to chapters in the 30th edition of the White Mountain Guide. The number of trails and miles associated with each tab is indicated below.
- Washington (60 trails, 129.2 miles)
- Northerns (70 trails, 133.3 miles)
- Franconias (63 trail, 162.1 miles)
- Carrigan (30 trails, 87.1 miles)
- Cannon (27 trails, 66.1 miles)
- Moosilauke (55 trails, 136.4 miles)
- Waterville (72 trails, 152.1 miles)
- Chocorua (53 miles, 117.6 miles)
- Carters (71 trails, 187.2 miles)
- Speckled (35 trails, 75.4 miles)
- Mahoosuc (35 trails, 90.8 miles)
- Northern NH (80 trails, 130.7 miles)
Keeping Track of Trail Parts (aka “chads”)
If you hike part of a trail and don’t finish it in its entirety, you have to go back and finish the remaining portion at some point. This happens surprisingly frequently and is one reason why redlining is such a challenge. These missing segments are often referred to as “chads” by redliners, like those little bits of paper called hanging chads that stick to punch-out election voting cards. The notes section of each spreadsheet tab is a good place to document your chads.
That is a basic introduction to the Redlining Spreadsheet. Download a copy and get cracking. It takes a while to hike through this trail list!Editor's note: Help support this site by making your next gear purchase through one of the links above. Click a link, buy what you need, and the seller will contribute a portion of the purchase price to support SectionHiker's unsponsored gear reviews, articles, and hiking guides.
About the author
Philip Werner is the 36th person to finish Redlining the White Mountains, completing the 29th edition of the AMC’s White Mountain Guide in 2017. The author of Backpacking the White Mountain 4000 footers, Philip hopes to complete a second Redlining round, this time of the 30th edition, in 2020.
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